Apr 23

Well... I preferred when we had the pacman table...Click for full image

Max Comments: I read the paperback version of this back in the day and it had a nice cover which represented the content of the book quite well. This original hardback, on the other hand, has none of those things. It’s a barbarian and perhaps an elf-woman on thrones, in hell, staring into a satanic-goat-festooned portal to THE COSMOS. The back’s got some crystal pyramids on it.
Published 1988

Actually, that cover IS a classical work of art!I would touch it without protective gloves.I've seen worse. Far, far, worse.Interesting, but I would still read it in public.Middlng: Neither awful nor awfully goodWould not like to be seen reading that!Awful... just awful...That belongs in a gold-lame picture frame!Gah... my eyes are burning! Feels so good!Good Show Sir! (Average: 6.14 out of 10)

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23 Responses to “The Player of Games”

  1. Alessandra Kelley Says:

    Definitely art to rival the old Dungeons & Dragons covers. I could, in fact, see this as a cover on the old “Dragon” magazine, somewhere around issue 50 or 60.

  2. A.R.Yngve Says:

    Maybe the editor told the artist, “Just make me lose my job, okay? I’m sick of this sci-fi crap. I want out! Help me get fired!”

  3. Herm Says:

    This is a travesty. It shows nothing of Banks’s wry, witty, literate space opera. Crap stock art of people playing cosmic chess slapped on there by someone who hadn’t bothered reading any more than the title.

    None of the many layers of “games” going on throughout the novel are sit-down space jigsaws as shown. The “board” of the main plot-relevant game, if I recall correctly, is the size of several rooms, with pieces you pick up and carry.

  4. Dead Stuff With Big Teeth Says:

    She’s not really looking at the table. She’s looking at her foot. Perhaps wondering if her nail polish goes with either the fossiliferous limestone interior decorating, or the smouldering hot American footballs on the floor.

  5. Phil Says:

    The elephant in the room (so to speak) is the man’s pony-tail. But it’s not even a proper pony-tail like our favourite:

  6. Tom Noir Says:

    Ah yes, the winner of the 1988 Nebula Award for Most Misleading Cover.

    I mean, seriously, this is an awesome book that has nothing to do with whatever the hell is going on here.

  7. THX 1138 Says:

    I didn’t know Mr Banks wrote New Age self-actualisation handbooks. I eagerly await his tome on healing crystals.

  8. Vic Says:

    Two people trapped in the most boring date ever.

  9. Topy Says:

    That is definitely a carpet one would find in hell.

  10. Adam Roberts Says:

    The title is player, singular, games, plural. So the artist has drawn players, plural, game, singular. That’s just perverse.

  11. Scott B Says:

    Max, when you say the paperback had a nice cover, I’m assuming you mean the UK paperback, because the original US paperback was a disaster also, though of a different sort. Check out the garish fluorescent orange/pink/turquoise/purple pixilated 80’s wannabe-cyberpunk cover here (I think I probably submitted this version to GSS a while back):[email protected]/2391702590/

    Not that the hardcover here is any better; I think that the presence of fire is about the only accurate element on that cover.

  12. fred Says:

    This week on Deadliest Warrior, Barbarian vs Cirque du Soleil acrobat…WHO IS DEADLIEST!

  13. NGpm Says:

    You’ve tried speed-dating without success … now try slow-dating.

  14. Jerk of all Trades Says:

    So hell is actually a horrible RP session that never, EVER ends. Also you must dress as your character, but never get anything out of that but a sore butt.

  15. Jerk of all Trades Says:

    And maybe a steadily shrinking head, from the looks of that barbarian.

  16. Phil Says:

    We’ve been misled by the title. One of those characters might actually be the player of games, but in this scene they are depicted in a restaurant, waiting for their order to be brought to the table. It can be a long wait, especially if paella is involved.

  17. Max Williams Says:

    ScottB – haha, you’re right that’s pretty hideous – not seen that! The floating eye thing reminds me of 343 Guilty Spark from the Halo video games, perhaps even contributing towards the Culture -> Halo influence?

    I think i’ve been guilty of selective memory, as i’d thought that the cover of the book i’d read originally was this one:
    which looks like the artist has read the book or at least been given a good brief.

    However, it’s too modern: the original i’d read (around 1990-1991ish) must have been this one
    which doesn’t really have anything to do with the story either and just looks like it was pulled from some stock collection.

  18. vampy-ra Says:

    The concept is quite interesting, pity it’s so badly made.

  19. Herm Says:

    Max’s first link is the cover of my edition too, and I find it perfect for the book’s contents, despite being inexplicably pink. It’s also one of a series of covers for the Culture novels, all in the same style, with one (different) colour predominating in each. They’re really good. I even like the font, and I don’t normally notice fonts unless they’re horrible.

  20. Anti-Sceptic Says:

    My vote goes to comment #12 by @fred. Gave me a good laugh!

  21. rev Says:

    “This is sooo boring. Man, we gotta get more quarters. You should ask your Mum, mine always says no”.

  22. Leah Says:

    That’s a portal? I thought it was a foosball table.

  23. GSS ex-noob Says:

    This is like when Pong and Pac Man came in table versions in bars. But apparently they’ve lost their last quarter and the blind date isn’t going so well since one’s a barbarian warrior and the other’s a sort of art nouveau girl.

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